The Weber State men’s basketball team is starting to get healthy, and that might be bad news for the rest of the Big Sky Conference.
Both Kyle Bullinger (dislocated elbow) and Frank Otis (balky knee) returned to action this week after missing nine games. Bullinger, a 6-foot-6 forward with good range, was a first team all-Big Sky pick last season. Otis is a 6-6, 220-pound forward who transferred from SMU. He played at McClymonds High School in Oakland, Calif., the same school that produced Griz junior point guard Will Cherry.
Bullinger played 16 minutes but did not score in the Wildcats’ 80-64 win over the Griz on Saturday night in a battle for the top of the Sky. Otis scored all seven of his points in the first half as the Wildcats opened a comfortable lead. Once Bullinger returns to speed, he’ll help at both ends of the floor. Otis is known more for his rebounding and defense than his offensive touch (he banked in a free throw on Saturday).
“When they were hurting, we kind of came together as a team and got stronger,” Weber star Damian Lillard said. “Some guys got thrown into the fire and they really matured. Mook (Otis) and Bull (Bullinger) worked real hard to get back and now that they’re back our team is even stronger. They bring a lot to the table. Now we have a full boat and we’re still getting better, so that brings a lot of confidence to the team.”
Both Weber State and the Griz are well stocked for the future as well. The Wildcats got nice contributions from 6-10 sophomore Kyle Tresnak and freshman guard Gelaun Wheelwright, who came off of redshirt due to the injuries to Bullinger and Otis. Tresnak had 12 points and six boards against the Griz and Wheelwright had seven points.
On Thursday, Montana coach Wayne Tinkle pulled his starters with 6:30 to play in the Grizzlies’ blowout of Northern Arizona. The reserves actually extended the lead against the bulk of NAU’s starting five. Redshirt freshman Mike Weisner had nine points in that game and hit a big 3-pointer as the Griz made a run at Weber on Saturday. True freshman Jordan Gregory had five points during Montana’s 19-4 run that cut Weber’s lead to eight.
There were some interesting finishes to Big Sky games Saturday night.
In Sacramento, the Bengals rallied from a 22-point, second-half deficit and beat Sac State 68-67 when Kenny McGowen converted a four-point play with 8 seconds to go. The Hornets led 54-32 with just over 10 minutes to play.
In Greeley, Colo., the defending champion Northern Colorado Bears pulled out a 71-70 win when Eastern’s Collin Chiverton called a timeout when the Eagles had already exhausted their supply, leading to a technical foul. Chiverton had just hit the go-ahead basket, then was battling for a loose ball seconds later and called a timeout. Tate Unruh made the winning free throws for Northern Colorado.
In Flagstaff, Ariz., Montana State overcame 22 turnovers to beat Northern Arizona 74-72 and earn a split of its road trip.